Living Our Hardworking Brand (For 25 Years and One Extra-Long Day)
For many companies, “living the brand” is sometimes easier said than done. But when your brand is “hardworking,” and you’re in a service industry, you’d better epitomize that message each and every day. We’ve been hardworking since day one — when our agency was started in a telephone booth on the blue-collar streets of Buffalo, New York. Sure, we’ve grown and evolved in 25 years, but our industrious spirit is as alive today as it was back in 1986. So when our 25th anniversary rolled around, we didn’t want to simply commemorate the agency, we wanted to honor what our agency stood for. We wanted to do something big — something that would showcase our hardworking brand in action.
And so the Twenty-Five Hour Workday was born.
We came up with the idea that the entire agency would work 25 hours straight creating a marketing campaign that we’d donate to a local business. How’s that for living the brand? Only question was, who’d be the lucky client? We decided it should be a scrappy startup – just like we were 25 years ago – and we’d hold a contest to find just the right one. Starting from scratch to build a new brand would offer a ton of flexibility, along with all the rewards that come with pro bono work.
First came the announcement of the contest with instructions for young companies to enter: There’s no shortage of startups hungry for marketing support. After a few weeks and more than 40 entries, we narrowed the list to three ultra-worthy businesses. Though their industries were diverse, they had one thing in common. They were all trying to create their brands from the ground up — a nice opportunity for any agency looking to make an immediate impact. The three chosen companies then had to work their social networks and get votes on our website to help them win. After more than 15,000 votes, You and Who was declared the winner.
The more we learned about this company, the more we fell in love. You and Who is a buy-one-give-one business that sells artist-designed t-shirts. For every shirt sold, one is donated to someone in need. A company with a conscience. Who else would be more deserving of a total brand makeover in 25 hours?
As the big day approached, excitement reached a fever pitch around the company. We split up the entire agency into various committees to ensure everyone was involved, engaged and had a job to do. Though we played up the strengths of each employee, many were asked to step outside their comfort zones. Everyone was set to pull together on one project, toward one common goal. Some were even given the opportunity to learn from people they don’t typically work with. This was already shaping up to be something extraordinary.
During 25 straight hours, something amazing happened. You bet we strategized, designed, wrote, and worked, worked, worked. That was to be expected. Oh, and we impressed the hell out of our new clients. But this thing — this contest designed to get people outside of our company to realize how special our agency is — really had the biggest effect on our staff and our company. We worked together — all of us — toward one common goal for a day plus one hour. The bonding experience was immeasurable. No one saw that coming.
When all was said and done, we got the press and attention we were looking for. And we created a brand for a neat little t-shirt company that introduced itself to the world at SXSW. But, most importantly, we drew strength and inspiration from our communal efforts and from our happy client. Helping a fledgling company gave us the opportunity to get back to our roots, and we’ve grown as a result. Oh, and we super-charged our brand inside and out. Now that’s hardworking.
What are you doing to live your brand?
Jim Hettich is Chairman and CEO of Crowley Webb in Buffalo, NY. Before joining Crowley Webb in 1998, Jim enjoyed a decade and a half in the ad biz at agencies including DDB, BBDO, and the Wolf Group. He has worked with some of the world's biggest brands, such as Bausch & Lomb, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Citibank, Eastman Kodak, Fisher-Price, GE, IBM, M&T Bank, Mobil, Praxis and Siemens. Jim steers the strategic ship for Crowley Webb, and is always on the lookout for its next great client and a Bob Dylan show.